Known affectionately as the ‘Phil and Holly of the drinks world’ by the trade, Aidy Smith & Helena Nicklin are back with a bang in 2021 and eager to share their expertise and passion for all sorts of drinks with the public through podcasts, articles, radio and TV appearances and over their combined social media following of over 160K.
Both Aidy and Helena fell in love with wine and spirits the lifestyle way; through people, places and culture, rather than geeking out on dry, standalone facts.
They now bring this curiosity and a desire to entertain to all their drinks communications, daring to be different.
We got to speak to the lovely drinks duo to find out more about what is take to become a top drink’s influencer.
What does a drink’s influencer’s job entail?
H: Successful drinks influencers need to spend time building their audiences through engagement, both with brands and other drinks lovers. Answering those questions and replying to comments is essential.
You need to develop your own style of photo and videos and be prepared to take your time to create those. Also, you should always also be educating yourself about the drinks you are talking about.
A: Admitting and acknowledging that you will constantly be evolving the content you create as each year, everything becomes outdated with new platforms, new themes and new fads.
If you keep doing what you’ve always done and not adapted to the times you’ll quickly fall behind and become less relevant.
For the first time, at the ripe old age of 30, I feel like I’m getting old now and that I have to admit this!!
Do you need qualifications to become a drinks influencer or is it all down to experience?
H: ‘Influencer’ has become a bit of a dirty word, especially in the drinks industry.
There are two types: those that have been in the industry for years as bona fide writers and presenters who happen to have an Instagram account, like us, and there are those just getting into drinks and sharing their knowledge with stunning photos and videos.
A: I would agree with that and say that both types are valid and can bring very different audiences, which is why brands like to work with a range of people.
So, no, you don’t need qualifications but if you have zero knowledge, you probably won’t find the big brands coming to work with you – unless you are a celeb!
For Aidy, have there been any challenges or benefits being a TV presenter and having Tourette’s?
A: Oh yes, lots of both. One big issue has been challenging the assumptions that all people with Tourette’s swear, which for a presenter on live TV or radio is clearly not ideal.
I’m always having to educate people that less than 10% of those with TS have Coprolalia (the act of inappropriate gestures such as swearing).
I have tics but I manage them in my own ways. My TS also gives me an intense energy, which I channel into work and building my brand.
I have also been talking about my experiences growing up with TS in the press a lot lately and have absolutely loved hearing from people who have read my interviews and got in touch to say thank you for the honesty – and the education!
I have managed to turn what could be seen as a disability into my very own superpower.
For Helena, being a working mum during the pandemic and looking after your children, what advice would you give a mum who is trying to get back into work and how do you manage the work-life mum balance?
H: If I’m honest, it was bloody difficult. I had to help Aidy pivot our business away from the TV shows we couldn’t travel to film, to creating a social media drinks agency, while homeschooling two young children – all while trying to find time to be a parent, a wife and a friend.
Advice I would give would be to try not to do too much and set more manageable, realistic targets, even though that can be frustrating.
Another thing I learned is that this is a time to relish that extra time with the kids and that we will regret it if we don’t, so put your phone / laptop down and embrace it!
How do you learn not to over indulge in your job?
A: Very good question. It’s hard as with all the samples that come in, your stash never runs out! I find I now taste and then pass the rest onto my neighbors, which spreads the love a bit!
Not only does it stop me from being tempted, I’m able to help someone else explore something new.
There’s a bit of a joke in my building development now – I often exchange a parking space for the weekend for a bottle of something!
H: Yes, it is hard, especially when samples are good! Personally, I now have 4 dedicated days of not drinking during the week and when I do drink, I am mindful to take breaks and drink water in between glasses.
Starting with a non-alcoholic highball can get you in the mood slowly too and cut that initial urge.
Luckily, there are lots of great non-spirits around these days.
How do you learn to know your drink limits?
A: Trial and error over many years!
H: 100%, that’s it!
If you had to choose your best drink for chilling, a dinner date and a club night, what would you go for?
A:Chilling: When I chill out, I love a simple glass of wine, white or red. It’s easy to prepare and serve which is great after a long day.
Dinner date: I love to start my dates with a cocktail as it’s a perfect conversation starter and gives me the opportunity to throw what I’m good at into the mix, ha ha.
If at home, I make a mean raspberry sour and it’s kind of cute to show them how to make it at the same time too. I’m such a romantic…
Club: Clubs feel like a lifetime away, but Hard Seltzers are perfect for clubbing as they don’t spill, are pretty hydrating and have just enough alcohol to give you a buzz while you’re dancing.
H: Gosh, this changes all the time for me but right now…
Chilling: a bottle of juicy, soft red wine for lounging on the sofa or a fabulous whisky in a tumbler with a large chunk of ice.
Dinner date: Nothing beats sharing a bottle, so I would go for a crisp and classy white wine, like a Sancerre or a Chablis. And maybe a cheeky dram after the meal.
Club: I would wholeheartedly agree on hard seltzers for clubs (not that I remember what those are anymore!)
For Helena, what do you bring as a woman to the drinks industry and why is it so important to have a male/female balance?
H: I believe I was one of the first wine influencers when I set up my YouTube channel back before twitter and Instagram even existed and I did that because I saw what was missing in this industry surrounded by men: an eye for the visual.
Women seem to have a knack for this, which is why we have seen an explosion of female influencers over Instagram and this has made the drinks industry a much warmer, more approachable place.
When I started, I had zero female role models and my visual approach was laughed at, but we women have opened up wine and drinks to a new audience, thanks to our different style of communication to most men.
What do you do to keep fit and healthy?
A: I walk literally everywhere – even in lockdown, I try to have many one on one walking meetings outdoors and cover huge distances in a day! The gym in our building has also just opened again, so I’ll be back swimming a few times a week.
H: I also walk a lot and try to have a PT session twice a week! I try to manage my diet too but I’m still guilty of consuming far too much junk food. I could do better, on all of this to be fair!
Tell us what you have coming up and any drink brands to look out for:
A: We are about to launch a new series of our Podcast ‘Bring a Bottle’, which will have a whole new look at format.
You can find that on Spotify and other platforms. We are also working on two new series of our TV show but we can’t mention what those are yet!
Later in the year, we’ll be doing some masterclasses at food and drinks festivals too, so watch this space.
H: To add to this, we will soon be rolling out more regular Instagram lives with a range of interesting guests and you’ll be seeing more reels and videos featuring cocktail making, wine geekery, no and low recommendations and more on our socials.
There will also be plenty of new articles up on our online magazine, thethreedrinkers.com so check it out!
You can follow Aidy (@Sypped) and Helena (@HelenaSips) on social media for more drinkspiration, visit their website or watch The Three Drinkers on Amazon Prime.